These Savage Shores #4


Publisher: Vault Comics

Writer: Ram V

Illustrator: Sumit Kumar

Colours: Vittorio Astone

Letters: Aditya Bidikar

In just four issues Ram V and this creative team has created an epic saga. Yes, an epic saga. The ground work has been laid, several die cast, and glimpses of a handful of worlds that stretch further and deeper than we can imagine have been shown. Intricately woven stories are lining Sumit Kumar’s brilliantly illustrated frames to help create this wondrous tapestry. Vittorio Astone perfectly colors the impending dread from ALL angles that this story is presenting. Aditya Bidikar’s lettering is nothing short of masterful in helping breath life into the script. Yes, this is truly a piece of art in every way you can define it. Words, visuals, structure, presentation or however you wish to try to box in what art is, this book personifies it.

There are several takes you can have with TSS. Is it allegorical? Are we watching a metaphor for the invasive nature of Western literature? Culture? Expansion? Is it an affront to the literal and religious beliefs by way of the colonialism that washed outward from Britain? There is SO MUCH within the pages of this book that one cannot help but wonder. This is a testament to the absolute brilliance of this creative team. Personally I see bits and pieces of all of it, BUT, what I see most is the grand tale that Ram V is telling. Of course there are allusions and even direct imaging as this IS a driven prose. What I’m referring too, is this; take the known out when you open the pages and you’ve entered a fantastical world filled with both beauty and horror in both people and nature. The world, and what is made of it depends on who or what you are.

That is the nature of the beast, so to speak. Here upon These Savage Shores we’re being shown just how many forms beasts take. Layers upon layers upon layers are being peeled back with this cast of characters. While there is an absolute gut wrench in this issue (and it is of the ‘makes you sit down and take a moment’ variety) it is the way that Ram V changes up, but keeps the pacing perfect for what’s unfolding that truly drives the effectiveness of this book. While described as horror, to me this book is the perfect example of a thriller. Yes, there is horror in it but it isn’t the point. Or maybe it is the actualities of what is happening that are the horror rather than the expected scenes associated with the horror trope. This creative team has used it as a representative illustration and reality of the deeper issues this story covers. That is what masterful art is able to accomplish. It is what this book is excelling in doing.

As the series is coming to a close (this makes me incredibly sad) there was quite a bit of work to do given the slow burn through the first three issues. It was purposeful in its pace and while it does set up this issue to be a bit jarring with everything that unfolds, that’s the point. The issues represented within move(d) just as they’ve been presented here. There’s a slow but strong permeation of presence, thought, ideology, and it all precedes an avalanche of action. The horror revealed is the reality of what has already been taking place. The trade routes are inroads for invasion and expansion from the colonials. The visitations are recon missions and feeling out sessions. By the time the affront of Count Grano stepping into the fray occurs the realization that what he’s doing and representing is already there and happening comes at a blinding speed. The reaction of Bishan, of the land and culture, is equally as damning. Here sits one of the bigger questions this book asks. When faced with monsters must you become one? Defending his home, his land, and his culture Bishan certainly begs the question of just how far is too far? When do the actions go to far and pass merely being a defense of ones self? Are there not consequences and lines of acceptability regardless of what side you are on or represent … regardless of what you truly are? Maybe there are cases where too much IS the answer. Maybe there isn’t. This is a question left to linger as Bishan literally lashes out in a manner that so many of us can feel and see ourselves doing in the same set of circumstances. Does that make it ok, or right though?

Whether it is literal vampires coming to suck the life out of your very way of being, or the monstrous lengths to which you must go in order to protect everything that you are the harsh reality is that the horror of truth lies within everything. “The hour of monsters is upon us” The quote is an absolute bell toll that cuts straight through the silence and tension of pieces that have all been placed on the board thus far. It is also a heartbreaking and powerful truth that resonates with all that is coming out as the pieces are forced together. The final picture is not likely to be what we thought … and it is likely to leave us beautifully torn apart. The tragedy is just as much, if not more, in the humanity as it is the monster and that hurts. As singular issues go this is one of the absolute best I’ve ever read. The savagery of the emotions match and even exceed the savagery of the action on the page. This book makes you feel what is being told within it. These Savage Shores is a beautiful instrument of heartache and pain. Open it up and let the symphony engulf you. Grab it THIS #NCBD May 8th!


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